Andros is a Bahamian island we had not visited on any of our previous trips and so we were looking forward to a new experience. We arrived at Small Hope Bay, a family run, (truly) eco-friendly all-inclusive resort that sits right on the beach overlooking the clear blue waters we would soon be diving into. Our early morning flights meant that we had time to meet the team, head to our rooms, set-up our camera equipment and then walk along the jetty to the dive centre to get ready for a day of diving. We only had one day of diving here, so we were determined to make the most of it.
Our three dives were to cover a wide range of types of diving. Our first dive was to visit the famous oceanic blue hole and we were to be led by Jeff Birch, the owner of the resort and a legend in the scuba diving world. The dive started off on a beautiful reef and then Jeff beckoned us towards a crack in the reef. We followed him down and suddenly we found ourselves within the blue hole, heading deep to enable us to look up at the “window” of the blue hole and watch the divers swim past in the blue.
All too soon it was time to start to head to shallower water, and Jeff led us up through a fissure in the reef back up to the coral, where we found a school of friendly batfish to play with as we carried out our safety stop. Andros is famous for its blue holes, with both oceanic and inland sites to explore and the Small Hope team offer a speciality in this type of diving.
Our second dive was a real treat, as we got to see the pioneering conservation work that Small Hope Bay are involved in. They have set-up a coral allotment on the seabed, where they are growing new coral to transplant onto the reef. Our group even got to try their hand at a bit of coral “gardening” by helping to clean off any algae. There was also time to explore the reef and enjoy the marine life such as turtles, angelfish and barracuda.
Our final dive saw us visit the famous wall off Andros. Here the reef plummets to huge depths. We kept to the top of the reef and peered down the wall, watching reef sharks cruise by. We got a taste of the incredible diving that Andros had to offer and we wished we had more time to further explore the island and its diving.
For a day off diving before our flight, our hosts at Small Hope offered us a tour of the island, allowing us to visit the inland blue holes, as well as visiting the batik fabric industry that the island is famous for. Our walks would find us following trails through woods full of medicinal plants, that would suddenly open up to reveal a beautiful blue hole. Many of the group took the chance to jump in and go for a swim and the braver ones took a dive off the high platforms!
Whilst our visit to Small Hope Bay was very short, we were immediately made to feel like family. The staff join you for nibbles and cocktails after a day of diving, and everyone sits around talking about their experiences of the day. The food was excellent with some of the best vegetarian food we have eaten in the Caribbean.
We wish we could have stayed for longer!
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All images & text by Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown of Frogfish Photography.